WASHINGTON With oil ally Scott Pruitt now at the helmof the Environmental Protection Agency and a White House looking toaxe one-quarter of the agencys funding, two former EPA administrators felt no need to equivocate.
This is actually going to be devastating for the agencys ability to protect public health,Gina McCarthy, who served as EPA chief under former President Barack Obama, told MSNBC.
In a joint interview Wednesday with MSNBCs Greta van Susteren, McCarthy andChristine Todd Whitman, the former New Jersey governor who later served as EPA chief under President George W. Bush, warned that the proposed EPA cuts go far deeper than reeling in burdensome regulations.
McCarthy called the Trump administrations budget proposal an attack on the agency that would reduce staffing levels to where they were 40 years ago.
I understood that this administration was likely not supportive of climate initiatives, but this is going to the heart of our air and water protections. This is going to the heart of how EPA protects the public health of American families, she said.
As The Huffington Post previously reported, the White House is looking to cut the EPAs budget by 25 percent, as well as eliminate 1 in 5 agency employees.And The Washington Post reports that the EPAs scientific research arm, the Office of Research and Development, could see up to a 42 percent cut.Last year, the agencys budget totaled nearly $8.2 billion.
Were talking about 42 percent of our scientists potentially losing their jobs this year, McCarthy added. I mean, this is not just disagreeing with the science and wanting to deny it. This is telling half of the scientists that theyre no longer welcome in the premiere environmental science agency in the world, the Environmental Protection Agency.
Asked if she thought Pruitt would do the right thing for EPA, Whitman said she was skeptical.
I hope fervently that the kind of message that the administrator gave the other day to the people who work at the agency, the career staff, where it was a pretty balanced approach, thats going to be more the tone were going to see more respect for the agency and its mission, what it does, she said. The agency is about protecting human health and the environment. And we dont want to lose that in an effort to ensure that the regulations in place are the ones the administration wants.
What Whitman and McCarthy had to say Wednesday came as little surprise. Both have previously spoken out against what is unfolding at EPA.
[Pruitt] obviously doesnt care much for the agency or any of the regulations it has promulgated, Whitman said of the former Oklahoma attorney general in December. He doesnt believe in climate change; he wants to roll back the Clean Power Plan.
In a statement earlier Wednesday to The Washington Post, McCarthy blasted the White Houses budget proposal, saying it ignores not onlythe need to invest in science and to implement the law, but also the lessons of history that led to EPAs creation 46 years ago.
A gutting of the EPA will almost certainly get the endorsement of the agencys top boss; Pruitt sued the EPA 13 times as Oklahomas attorney general.
I think people across this country look at the EPA much as they look at the IRS, Pruitt said during his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.There are going to be some big steps taken to address some of those regulations.
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